Friday 4 September 2009

KM failure stories number 3 - all push and no pull

Originally uploaded by jasonippolito
Another organisation started implementing Knowledge Management, and found that there were very many excellent stories to share in the organisation. As well as introducing a range to tools, they began to provide a service of capturing and sharing knowledge and stories from around the organisation, and did an excellent job of this.

They did so well, that their services became very popular, and soon they had little time for anything else. They put their KM strategy work on hold, and became almost a full-time capture service. Eventually the organisation "declared success" for KM, and wound down the team, whereupon KM activity rapidly tailed off.

There were two issues here. One was that the team became diverted from the strategic issues of KM implementation and became a service team rather than a change leadership team. Consequently when the team disbanded, there was no change to sustain. There will always be a demand for capture services - a greater demand than you can service - and you need to find a way to deal with this. You train others in capture and storytelling, you develop the skills internally or you outsource the capture work to give yourself space to delivery the strategy. A KM implementation team needs to work at a strategic level, not a tactical or service work level.

Secondly, the focus was all on knowledge Push, and not on knowledge Pull. They were great at pushing out stories, but not so great about creating the demand for learning and the demand for knowledge. With no Pull, there was little re-use, and little delivery of benefit. Like the waterskier in the picture above - with no Pull, you can't get going.

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